These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions.

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Do more people prefer to drink, wine or beer?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

In the US, people prefer beer, then wine, then liquor.

-Aaron White

do pain killers really kill pain or take your mind off it

-manpanther2233, Arkansas

manpanther2223 Thanks for the question. Pain medications or 'opioids' work in a variety of ways on many receptors in the body. Mostly, they do reduce the feeling of pain. But they also work in areas of the brain that reduce the mind's awareness of the pain.

-Richard Denisco

do peolple really abuse perscription drugs

-jjean, Texas

Hi jjean and thanks for the question,Yes many people abuse prescription drugs. They are very powerful and relatively safe if use as directed. But if people experience a high from the medication and want more they can start abusing the medication. In fact more people died in the US in 2009 from prescription drug overdoses than car accidents.

-Richard Denisco

Do people die of smoking artificial drugs like k2? (which I believe is legal)

-mr. Bunker, Maryland

Hello Mr BunkerActually, spice products like K2 are labeled “not fit for human consumption” and are nows illegal in the United States and most European countries. Its side effects, like the ingredients, often vary, but emergency rooms report seeing people with rapid heart rates, vomiting, agitation, and hallucinations. So, I wouldn't be surprised if some deaths were linked to K2 use.Hope this helps

-Ruben Baler

Can your mental health be affected with drugs and cigarettes or because of depression? Are there any other reasons why people kill themselves? Which affect is the worst?

-jum, Texas

hi: This is a really good but really tough question! Drug use and mental health problems can definitely be related, but the relationship is complicated. It is a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg question. Sometimes people use drugs when they are experiencing mental health problems in an attempt to feel better, but often use of unprescribed drugs leads to more problems, such as depression. If someone who isn't already having mental health problems starts to use drugs, the drug use can lead to problems (for example, problems at school, and in relationships with parents, family, and or friends), and these stresses can than affect their mental health. Getting high can also lead to using other drugs; and drug use in general affects your brain functioning. Sometimes, effects such as memory problems can be lasting. We don't know everything we need to know about why people become suicidal, but we do know that mental illnesses such as depression or PTSD and alcohol or other drug-use disorders can increase the risk for suicide, so it is important to get help and stick with a treatment plan. Suicide is often an impulsive act, and use of alcohol and drugs can make people act more impulsively. And at the time that a suicidal person is feeling at their worst, their focus might be on ending their suffering without considering how final suicide is and how many friends and family members would be affected. They may not realize that they can feel better with treatment. Suicide is preventable. For more information about suicide prevention, resources and where to find help in your area, check out these links: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml and http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/getting-help-locate-services/index.shtml and http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/selected-suicide-prevention-online-resources.shtml

-Joel Sherrill

could a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-wramirez, Illinois

Hey Golder College Prep HS. You've asked a really interesting question, one for which we do not have an answer. We do not know if a baby in the womb gets high when the mom smokes marijuana, but we do know that the active ingredient in marijuana do get into the baby's brain where it can affect the baby and later during childhood and longer. Illegal drugs used during pregnancy, such as
cocaineand marijuana, have been associated with a variety of adverse effects, though more research is needed to draw causal connections. Effects may be subtle and generally range from low birth weight to developmental deficits affecting behavior and cognition. For example, impaired attention, language, and learning skills, as well as behavioral problems, have been seen in children exposed to cocaine and marijuana, all of which can affect success in school. So, although we do not know whether a baby gets high when the mom uses illegal drugs during pregnancy and when she smokes during pregancy, the baby is at risk for unwanted outcomes during development. Here's a link that talks about risks of prenatal drug exposure:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

-Cora Lee Wetherington

could a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking marijuana???

-wramirez, Illinois

Hey Golder College Prep HS. You've asked a really interesting question, one for which we do not have an answer. We do not know if a baby in the womb gets high when the mom smokes marijuana, but we do know that the active ingredient in marijuana do get into the baby's brain where it can affect the baby and later during childhood and longer. Illegal drugs used during pregnancy, such as cocaine and marijuana, have been associated with a variety of adverse effects, though more research is needed to draw causal connections. Effects may be subtle and generally range from low birth weight to developmental deficits affecting behavior and cognition. For example, impaired attention, language, and learning skills, as well as behavioral problems, have been seen in children exposed to cocaine and marijuana, all of which can affect success in school. So, although we do not know whether a baby gets high when the mom uses illegal drugs during pregnancy and when she smokes during pregancy, the baby is at risk for unwanted outcomes during development. Here's a link that talks about risks of prenatal drug exposure: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Could someone get high off of second-hand smoke?

-Batman, Pennsylvania

Do you mean a 'contact high' from second hand marijuana smoke?? If so... the answer is yep! If you breath enough of the second hand smoke, the active ingredients of MJ like THC get to the lung and to the brain. It can also get into your hair, etc. So...don't hang around folks that are smoking...especially if you have to take a pee test any time soon!!!

-David Shurtleff

could you die from drinking alchohol?

-aromero, Texas

Yes. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, your heart will stop beating and you can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. You can also die from injuries sustained while doing dangerous things while drinking.

-Aaron White

could you say childern useing useing illegal drugs is just from bad parenting?

-Mr.flopicuse, New York

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to your question. Kids use drugs for lots of reasons. Parenting has a big impact on the risk of drug use in kids but it's not the only reason. For example, parents can model (or not) drug use behavior and they can carefully (or not) supervise their kids' activities. Another major risk factor for drug use in kids is having friends who use drugs. So, it is likely that both parenting and peer influence play significant roles in drug use among kids.

-Kevin Conway

Could your brain actually be slowly disintegrated? Cuz everyone says drugs kill brain cells

-egrimes, Texas

Some drugs do kill brain cells, such as volitile chemicals found in glue and other inhalants, but the bigger problem is that drugs that people take to get high can lead to long term changes in the the way that brain cells function. Recent research has found that there can be profound changes to the structure and function of the brain cells, including changes in the expression of genes. We don't know how long these changes last when you stop taking drugs or even what all of these changes do to overall brain function. So while drugs may not kill brain cells, they do change brain cells and probably not for the better.

-Steve Grant

couldn't you blame the government for bringing wide spread drug use tot he united states? amphetamines were given to fighter pilots on long bombing runs, and MKULTRA brought

-saltybeefstick, Pennsylvania

i don't think so

-Ruben Baler

Cynthia-From Kenmore: What makesdrugs addicting?

-pdoug, Virginia

What's up Kenmore!!The short answer is Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good!

-David Shurtleff

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a
plantthat contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from
plantto
plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See
http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Susan Weiss

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like marijuana? Is there a way other than smoking it it that it can be taken?

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a plant that contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from plant to plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Susan Weiss

define mushrooms

-gracem, Pennsylvania

Hi Grace,Mushrooms are fungi that grow on the ground or on tree bark. But you probably already knew that! Some mushrooms are good to eat, some are poisonous and can kill you, and some have a psychoactive compound called psylocibin in them. When people talk abut using 'shrooms, those are the ones they are using.

-Nancy Pilotte

Depending how much you smoke, can it affect how long you live?

-naynay25, Iowa

Yes! About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking.

-Dave Thomas

Did they use to put some kind of drug in Coca Cola

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yes, but that was more than a century ago. When Coca Cola was first invented, part of the formula included leaves of the coca plant which contains cocaine. But when people realized how harmful cocaine is, Coca Cola changed the way it was made so now it doesn't contain cocaine....just lots and lots of sugar. Here's a fun experiment, put a nail in a glass of cola and see what happens over the next day or so.

-Steve Grant

DMS Sugar Land, TX -Are some people more prone to become alcoholics than others? Please explain

-harry.h, Texas

Yes, absolutely. Here are the key risk factors:Having a family history - Both the genes related to having a family history of alcohol use and being raised in a home where you see others drinking increases your risk for alcohol problems. Starting to drink early - Someone who has their first drink at age 14 is around twice as likely to become an alcoholic at some point in life as someone who starts drinking at 18.

-Aaron White

DMS Sugar Land, TX Is crystal meth injected or smoked?

-harry.h, Texas

Both. It can also be taken by mouth, but the hit to the brain is much faster when injected and smoked, and it is thought that the faster a drug gets to the brain, the more likely the user is to become addicted to it.

-Jim Bjork

DMS Sugar Land, TX- What is the difference between crack

-harry.h, Texas

Hello Sugar Land-They are essentially the same thing, but crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov

-Carol Krause

DMS Sugar Land, TX- What is the difference between crack cocaine and cocaine?

-harry.h, Texas

Hello Sugar Land-They are essentially the same thing, but crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov.

-Carol Krause

DMS, Sugar Land Middle Is it illegal for a parent to give their child

-harry.h, Texas

The laws vary greatly from state to state, but in most states, this is illegal. There are about 16 states that do allow parents to serve alcohol to their underage children. 

-Aaron White

DMS, Sugar Land Middle Is it illegal for a parent to give their child alcohol?

-harry.h, Texas

The laws vary greatly from state to state, but in most states, this is illegal. There are about 16 states that do allow parents to serve alcohol to their underage children. 

-Aaron White

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded

-Jim Bjork

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking LSD? (Explain)

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded.

-Jim Bjork

DMS, Sugar Land, TX-Is the

-harry.h, Texas

Yes--its stronger. The amount of THC (its active ingredient) in the marijuana plant has been going up over time from about 3-4% in the 80s to about 10% now. This means that people can get exposed to higher doses more easily with unpredictable effects--especially in a new user

-Susan Weiss

DMS, Sugar Land, TX-Is the marijuana today different from the marijuana people used in the sixties? (Exaplain)

-harry.h, Texas

Yes--its stronger. The amount of THC (its active ingredient) in the marijuana plant has been going up over time from about 3-4% in the 80s to about 10% now. This means that people can get exposed to higher doses more easily with unpredictable effects--especially in a new user.

-Susan Weiss

DMS, Sugar Land, TX-What are designer drugs?

-harry.h, Texas

Hey Sugar Land!The term “designer drugs” refers to drugs that are created in a laboratory (typically, an “underground,” or secret, illegal lab). A designer drug is created by changing the properties of a drug that comes from a plant—such as cocaine, morphine, or marijuana—using the tools of chemistry. The resulting “designer” drugs typically have a new, different effect on the brain or behavior. Check out this site for more info! https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-designer-drugs/

-Kris Bough

DMS, Sugar Land, TX-What is bath salt? Is it ingested or smoked?

-harry.h, Texas

If you mean the 'bath salts' that people buy to get high, these are chemicals that are similar to amphetamine. They have all the adverse effects that stimulants have, such as increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, since these chemicals are not legal and not regulated by the FDA, you really don't know what is in them. This means you are taking a big risk if you take them. People often 'snort' these chemicals the way they take cocaine, but they can be smoked. Either way you may take them, you are taking a big risk.

-Steve Grant